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The Deity of Christ:   W - I - S - E


Who do you say that I AM?

The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus asking His disciples the most important question that can be asked of any of us, "Who do you say that I AM?"  In pursuing our response, let's hear from those who can provide eyewitness testimony to both Jesus' life and ministry -- starting with the Apostle Peter.


Peter

 

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the Prophets.'  'But what about you?' He asked.  'Who do you say I am?'Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven'" (Matthew 16:13-17).  In his second Epistle, Peter confirmed his conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ is God.  "The righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ " (2 Peter 1:1).

John

Another eyewitness was the Apostle John.  He starts his Gospel with a clear affirmation of Christ's deity. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (John 1:1).  Continuing in verse fourteen, John maintains his belief in Christ's divinity, even as he explores the mysteries of the incarnation.  "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).


John the Baptist

 

One of the first eyewitnesses, John the Baptist, identified Jesus as the Messiah he had been prophesying about.   "John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the  sinof the world!'" (John 1:29).

Paul


Paul, who had a life changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, was also an eyewitness to Christ's deity.  As he wrote in his letters,  "Theirs are the Patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ who is God over all, forever praised, Amen" (Romans 9:5).

In his letter to Titus, Paul encouraged Titus to teach his Christian brothers and sisters to resist ungodliness and to live upright and godly lives . . . "While we wait for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).  In The Acts of the Apostles,Luke quoted Paul as saying, "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ" (Acts 17:3).

God the Father

The book of Hebrews records the words of the best eyewitness of all -- God the Father.  Hebrews 1:8 quotes Psalm 45:6 spotlighting the words of God the Father as He talks to His Son saying, "Your throne, O God will last forever and ever and righteousness will be the scepter of you kingdom."  Again, God the Father says, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5).

This takes us back to Jesus' original question, "Who do you say that I AM?"  Mormons would say that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer; Jehovah's Witnesses would say that Jesus is the archangel Michael;  New Thought Theology would call Jesus an avatar. 

But what did Jesus have to say about Himself?  "'You are a king then!' said Pilate.  Jesus answered, 'You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth'" (John 18:37).  Indeed, Jesus left no room for doubt about His identity. "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"

(John 14:6).


I AM


During the course of His ministry, Jesus systematically revealed His deity.  But, never was He more clear than when He applied to Himself the Holy Name of God. "'I and the Father are One.'  Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?'  'We are not stoning you for any of these, 'replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God'"  (John 10:30-33).


"A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water, and  they  were  terrified.   But  He  said  to  them, it is I
(in the original Greek 'I AM) don't be afraid'" (John 6:18-20).  "I AM!" A  solemnly  emphatic  declaration  echoing  God's  great  affirmation  to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3:14-- expressing both the eternality of His being and His oneness with the Father.  "Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they ask me, "What is his name?"  Then what shall I tell them?'  God said to Moses, "I AM who I AM .  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"  God also said to Moses, 'Say to the Israelites, "The LORD, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you."  This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation" (Exodus 3:13-15).

As God's name was considered so holy that it could not be either written or spoken -- even in prayer -- the Jews referred to God as  "Adoni," rather than risk pronouncing the divine name.  Jesus' bold declaration -- applying God's name to Himself -- could only be seen as blasphemous by the Jewish Leaders before whom He was called to give an account, on the night of His arrest.  "Then the High Priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, 'Are you not going to answer?  What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?'   But Jesus remained  silent and gave no answer.  Again, the High Priest asked Him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?'  'I AM,' said Jesus.  'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, and coming on the clouds of Heaven'" (Mark 14:60-62). 


By claiming the title "Son of Man" -- by placing Himself at the center of an apocalyptic vision by the Prophet Daniel -- Jesus identifies Himself as God, coming in power, glory, and judgement on the clouds of Heaven to receive an everlasting dominion.  "Before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of Heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).


As Jesus Himself had earlier claimed, "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in  Himself.  And  He  has  given   Him  authority   to  judge  because  He  is  the  Son   of  Man"

(John 5:26-27).  Understanding Him perfectly, the High Priest seized the moment by effecting  an act of high drama.  The High Priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked.  "You have heard the blasphemy.  What do you think?"  They all condemned Him as worthy of death" (Mark 14:60-64).


Abusing Leviticus 24:16, ("Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death.  The entire assembly must stone him.   Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death,") the consensus of those standing in judgment provides evidence of the lengths to which the religious leaders would go to preserve the legalism from which they derived their power.     But, rather than blaspheming the name of the LORD, Jesus Christ was, and is the LORD.




Signs and Wonders


Jesus used miracles to point the way to salvation for all mankind.  Jesus was often willing to present the evidence for His own deity, and for His standing as Savior.   "But if I do it, even though you do not believe  me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father"(John 10:38).   "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves" (John 14:11).  "'Unless you see miraculous signs and wonders,' Jesus told him, 'you will never believe'" (John 4:48). 


While many recognized both Jesus' knowledge of the Old Testament, and the wisdom with which He answered His antagonists -- as Jesus Himself made plain -- without the signs and wonders some people would never believe.   "Jesus answered, 'I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me'"  (John 10:25). "'Where did this man get these things?' they asked. 'What's this wisdom that has been given Him, that He even does miracles!  Isn't this the carpenter?  Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?  Aren't his sisters here with us?'  And they took offense at Him" (Mark 6:3).


Although initially His hometown (including His family) found both Jesus and His ministry to be a source of embarrassment; others, such as John the Baptist -- who were anticipating the Kingdom of God -- recognized the claims that Jesus was making.  And, like Christian Apologists today, sought reasons to believe.  Calling two of his own disciples to him, John sent them to ask Jesus, "'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'  When the men came to Jesus, they said, 'John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"' (Luke 7:18).


Jesus answered John by taking prophecies from Isaiah and applying them to Himself -- prophecies that John the Baptist would have been well familiar with. "In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out  of  gloom  and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.  Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of  Israel" (Isaiah 29:18-19).  "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and  the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute shout for joy" (Isaiah 35:5-6).  "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor" (Isaiah 61:1).  Said Jesus, "'Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor'" (Luke 7:18-22).  Let's take a look at the prophetic evidence that Jesus reported to John the Baptist.

The Blind Receive Sight


"'What   do  you  want  me  to  do  for  you?' Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, 'Rabbi, I want to see.'  'Go,' said Jesus, 'your faith has healed you.' Immediately he received his sight" (Mark 10:50-52).


The Lame Walk


"Jesus said to him, 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.'  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked" (John 5:8-9).
  

Those with Leprosy are Cured


"While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.  When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.'  Jesus reached out His hand and touched   the  man.   'I   am  willing,'   He   said.   'Be clean!' And   immediately  the   leprosy  left   him" (Luke 5:12-13).

The Deaf Hear


"Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk. He [Jesus]  looked up to Heaven and with a deep sigh said unto him, 'Ephphatha!' (which means, 'Be opened!').   At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue  was loosened and he began to speak plainly" (Mark 7:32; 34-35).


The Dead are Raised


"Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!'  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go'" (John 11:43-44).

The Good News is Preached to the Poor


"He [Jesus] . . . went into the synagogue, as was His custom.  And He stood up to read.  The scroll of the Prophet  Isaiah was handed to Him.  Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written:   'The Spirit
of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed  Me to preach good news to the poor.'  'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'"
(Luke 4:16-18; 21).


It's important to note that Jesus' last response to John's disciples ("and the good news is preached to the poor") provided the validating component of the signs and wonders being performed; and put John the Baptist's mind at ease.  Only signs and wonders which validate the good news of the Gospel are from God.  "Test all  things, hold fast to that which is good"

(1 Thessalonians 5:21). 

As Jesus warned us, "False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect -- if that were possible" (Matthew 24:24).  Even those who reject Christ will proclaim on Judgement day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' (Matthew 7:22)."  And, Jesus will respond,   "Depart from me, I never knew  you"

(Matthew 7:23).

 


 

Eternality

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us and we have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only sent from the Father full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14).  "In the beginning was the Word."  In the original Greek, the  verb "was" (as used here) denotes an imperfect  tense  --  indicating continued existence.  As taken from the original Greek, the end of the first sentence should read, "and God was the Word."  When the parameters of time and space came into being, Christ (the Divine Word) already existed in a loving relationship with both the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

The Fullness of Deity

"For in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9).  Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!  Amen" (Romans 9:5).  Jesus entered the world in  bodily  form,  but  at  no  time did He divest Himself of His Deity.  "Fullness of Deity," means that the totality of God, with all its powers and attributes -- including eternality -- remained with Jesus Christ.  Christ's deity can not be seen as being separate from His eternality -- as the latter is an attribute of the former.  As Jesus Himself said, "I and the Father are One" (John 10:30).  Here, Jesus uses "I" to separate Himself from the Father (as a person); but then uses "One" to identify Himself with the Father (as God) -- an allusion to the Trinity.


"For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on Earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross" (Colossians 1:19-20). 

The Firstborn Over All Creation

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created: things in Heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:15-16).  It's important to note that the term "firstborn" has nothing to do with birth order.  Rather, as Lord over all creation, Jesus is identified as the Creator, as King of kings, and Lord of lords. 


"I will also
appoint Him my first born, the most exalted of the kings of the Earth.  I will maintain my love to Him forever, and My covenant with Him will never fail.  I will establish His line forever, His throne as long as the heavens endure" (Psalm 89:27-29).  "But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.  After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven" (Hebrews 1:2-3).


After Christ died on the cross, He rose from the dead -- making peace possible between God and man, and becoming the "firstborn" from among the dead.  "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20).  "And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the  supremacy  (Colossians 1:18).  "Grace and peace to you from . . . Jesus Christ, who is the faithful  witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the Earth"

(Revelation 1:5).   

For ourselves, we look forward to the day when we will receive our full inheritance as the children of God -- being raised in bodies, both eternal and incorruptible. 
"For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers"
(Romans 8:29).

 
 

 

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